Two lower court judges, who were suspended in August on charges of taking money to settle cases during their posting in Vapi court in 2014, have been arrested by the vigilance cell of the Gujarat High Court under Prevention of Corruption Act. Judges A D Acharya and P D Inamdar, who were caught on camera allegedly discussing about settlement of money to pass favourable orders, were on Friday sent to 14 days judicial custody by a Valsad court.According to Registrar General of the High Court B N Karia, the vigilance cell investigated the case and filed an FIR in the case of alleged corruption.Karia said they have been produced in a Valsad court and the Vigilance Department of the High Court has also initiated process of the case. According to sources in the High Court, the two arrested judges were kept in the Gujarat High Court building on Wednesday and were produced before a Valsad district court on Thursday.The two judges on Friday were sent to the judicial custody in Navsari sub-jail jail by Valsad district court judge M M Mansuri after they unsuccessfully moved a bail plea before the court.
.In the recording, they were allegedly found talking to lawyers on phone and in person about dealing and negotiating the amounts to give favourable orders. Having received the complaint, the HC Vigilance Cell began the probe on the issue and later booked the judges under Prevention of Corruption Act and for alleged forgery of court records and passing of forged documents as genuine.
among a list of 16 prepared by Bhushan—comprising Justices Ranganath Mishra, K N Singh, M H Kania, L M Sharma, M N Venkatachalliah, A M Ahmadi, J S Verma, M M Punchhi, A S Anand, S P Bharucha, B N Kirpal, G B Patnaik, Rajendra Babu, R C Lahoti, V N Khare and Y K Sabharwal. Terming eight among the list as "definitely corrupt", Bhushan put their in the name of names in a sealed cover and submitted it to the Supreme Court and virtually dared it to open it and read out the contents. He said of the 16 on his list, "six were definitely honest and about the remaining two, a definite opinion cannot be expressed whether they were honest orcorrupt". The veteran lawyer, who became famous by successfully arguing for setting aside the election of Indira Gandhi in 1975, triggering a chain of events leading to imposition of Emergency, resorted to the dramatic action in solidarity with his son, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, who is facing contempt charges for accusing current CJI S H Kapadia and his predecessors of misconduct. "Make me a party along with Prashant Bhushan," requested Bhushan Sr, who was law minister in the post-Emergency Morarji Desai cabinet, as he challenged the SC to send him to jail for contempt. Bhushan's challenge to the SC can put the apex court in a bind. It may be constrained not to ignore the provocation lest it start a trend. The option of punishing the Bhushans, however, carries the risk of putting the father-son duo on a pedestal, and training the spotlight on their allegations when the issue of judicial corruption finds ready resonance with an expanding constituency. Of all the protests against alleged judicial corruption, the Bhushans's is easily the most breathtaking, and will play well with the gallery. Bhushan sought to raise for judiciary the cost of any punishment to him, by saying that he was ready to face the consequences. "The applicant will consider it a great honour to spend time in jail for making an effort to get for the people of India an honest and clean judiciary," he said. In his application, the former law minister spoke of both the growing corruption in judiciary as well as the tendency to sweep it under the carpet protecting judiciary'sreputation.
A defiant Bhushan claimed that two former CJIs were among the sources of his information on corruption among their peers. "In fact, two former CJIs had personally told the applicant while they were in office that their immediate predecessor and immediate successor were corrupt judges. The names of these four CJIs are included in the list of corrupt CJIs," Bhushan said. "Unless the level of corruption in the judiciary is exposed and brought in the public domain, the institutions of governance cannot be activated to take effective measures to eliminate the evil," he added.
"It is a common perception that whenever such efforts are made by anyone, the judiciary tries to target him by the use of the power to contempt. It is the reputation of the judge which is his shield against any malicious and false allegations against him. He does not need the power of contempt to protect his reputation and credibility," Bhushan further said.
One of the most frequently used words in India, corruption signifies a range of things. In 2005, Transparency International and Delhi based Centre for Media Studies, a research firm, undertook the India Corruption Study. The survey covered 14,405 respondents over 20 states and included interviews with service providers and users (of these services). The results, published the same year said Indians pay out around Rs 21,068 crore as bribes while availing one of 11 public services. While some of the results of the survey were published, many of the details were not. The study, however, remains the most recent and the most comprehensive report on corruption in India. Apart from calculating the extent of corruption, in Rs crore, it explain the magnitude of problem.
The sheer number of cases pending in the Indian judicial system (26 million at last count) says it all. Given that, and the number of judges across various states (per lakh of population), the system is rife with delays and inefficiencies -- ideal conditions for middlemen to step in. In the year preceding the survey, 59% of respondents paid bribes to lawyers, 5% to judges, and 30% to court officials.
The judicial system is highly dilatory, expensive, and beyond the reach of the common man. Ordinary citizens find it hard to seek redress, as litigation is expensive and extra money is often required to oil the wheels of the system
2. Misuse of power
There are instances of Metropolitan Magistrates issuing bailable arrest warrants against individuals of whose identitites he has no idea, in return for an inducement. Some time back, a Metropolitan Magistrate in Ahmedabad issued bailable arrest warrants against the President of India in return for an inducement of Rs 40,000.
In some cases, judges offer a favour in exchange for personal gain or favours. In Rajasthan, some time back, there were reports of a judge who offered judicial favour in exchange for s*xual favours from a litigant. Some of these instances have been reported by the media, but no action has resulted.
Today, under existing rules, any person making any allegation of corruption or other things against a sitting judge can be charged and punished for contempt of court. This is a deterrent against more such instances coming to light.
3. A difficult impeachment process
The Supreme Court of India has ruled that no first information report (FIR) can be registered against a judge, nor, a criminal investigation initiated without prior approval of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. Once appointed, a judge of the High Court or Supreme Court cannot be sacked except by a complicated impeachment process, done by members of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the two houses of Indian parliament. Their immunity is reinforced by the fact that the procedure isn’t just cumbersome but also susceptible to political influence. In the 1990s, when the Congress was in power, a motion seeking to impeach Justice V Ramaswami could not be passed by parliament as Congress members of parliament abstained from voting. There have been no other attempts at impeachment in India.
4. Slow and inefficient
Many cases drag on for years. SAn oft cited excuse is the lack of staff, but the judicial process itself is unnecessarily complicated and inefficient, making cases drag on for a long time. Bribes are sometimes ought to davance the judgement or bend it. At last count, some 26 million cases were pending in Indian courts.
Why People Pay Bribes
1. Favourable judgement
Recent media reports have shown that it is possible to secure a favourable judegement in a lower court by bribing the judiciary, although the situation radically improves when it comes to the higher courts.
2. Speeding up judgement
There is a huge backlog of cases in Indian courts which results in delayed judgements. It is quite common for a case to drag on for years. People often have to pay bribes to speed up the process.
3. Other activities
A llot of non case related work also falls under the purview of the judiciary. This includes the issual of affidavits, registrations, etc. People often pay bribes to get this work done by a middleman.
4. Obtaining bail
The judge has a lot of discretion in issuing bail; the guidelines governing this are fairly basic. It is possible to secure bail by influencing the judge in some cases.
5. Manipulating witnesses
As some recent high-profile cases have shown, witnesses are manipulated through money or force into giving favourable testimony.
As with many other issues facing India, the problem of judicial corruption festers not for want of solutions but for lack of will. Several reform commissions, senior judges, and eminent jurists have laid out detailed proposals for reforming the system from the ground up. Some of the key suggestions include improvements to contempt of court and impeachment proceedings, improvement of judicial infrastructure, enforcing integrity codes for judges and lawyers, extending the Right to Information Act to cover the judiciary, opening judicial vacancies to qualified legal scholars, using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, and introduction of modern technology. However, reforms have been intolerably slow, with the judiciary and executive blaming each other for the delay.
Yet the recent executive-judicial response to the NJAC crisis has shown a promising way forward: Even as it rejected the NJAC, the Supreme Court acknowledged the flaws in the current appointment system and tasked the government to gather public suggestions for its improvement. Within two weeks, more than 3000 citizens sent in suggestions for improving the quality and accountability of India’s judicial appointment process. It seems that the judiciary’s concerns of another executive incursion and the executive’s determination to save face after the NJAC debacle have forced both parties to work together for swift implementation of these suggestions. A similar openness to public suggestions for addressing the key causes of judicial corruption (and their swift implementation) seems to be the best way forward to arrest the perceived slide in the judiciary’s accountability and restore its image of integrity, impartiality, and fairness in the eyes of citizens. Unless the level of corruption in the judiciary is exposed and brought in the public domain, the institutions of governance cannot be activated to take effective measures to eliminate the evil,"
J S Rajawat,Advocate
Retd. Dy. Director,Prosecution